On July 24, 1994 a very fine article by Cal Thomas appeared in
the Times-Enterprise titled Oppression of a church by the state.
Mr. Thomas did a fine job of presenting the apparent trend of government's
increasing interference with churches. He writes that a New Covenant
church sold some property to a doctor ten years earlier who built
and opened an abortion clinic. Many years after the sale, the church
rented their facility to an abortion protest group that picketed
the abortion clinic. Subsequently, the church was sued by the clinic
under the RICO Act for attorney's fees and was awarded a judgement
of $234,000. In the end, both parties settled for $ 200,000 plus
$ 10,000 in interest to be placed in escrow during the forthcoming
appeal. The church did not have that much cash on hand, and the
plaintiff's lawyer began the process of seizing church property
and offerings. So, the church borrowed the money and was able to
make the appropriate financial arrangements.
Evidenced from Scripture and history, Christians are sometimes
persecuted for doing the will of God. Other times, churches are
persecuted because they have mixed themselves up with things of
a worldly nature therefore bringing government intervention upon
History clearly evidences in the early development and growth of
denominationalism that churches began to use the government to increase
their religious and political power. Government was used by one
denomination to gain control over another denomination uniting the
two through political pressure rather than a common bond of obedience
to the word of God.
We have some geopolitical mind sets with us today causing trouble
for some churches. The New Testament church, founded upon the apostles
with Christ as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), was quite different
than some churches appear today. Churches were not corporate entities
as most are today, nor were they involved in big business conglomerates
as many are today. Churches were not denominationalized into sects
and sub-sects. Churches were never persecuted - Christians were
I know that I have over simplified this issue, but the fact remains
that we have involved the church in a lot of things that should
be left to the world. Part of this may be caused by the misperception
that anything spiritual must be accomplished by the "church" because
simple Christians are inadequately trained; therefore, a church
hierarchy foreign to the Bible is created by men. Maybe it is because
we have partly lost the identity of the church which was simply
the group of saved people living in obedience to God (Acts 2).
In the New Testament, the church assembled to worship God. The
church did not assemble as political activists, the church did not
rent property to political groups, the church did not rent property
to the government, the church did not own and operate big businesses.
In the New Testament, the church tended to private, solemn, and
sincere worship to God. And, the individual members of the church
tended to politics, government, and economic gain as part of their
personal lives to the Lord.
It is human nature to blame someone other than self for our problems.
But whenever we have a problem, we need to first look to ourselves
and ask whether we are partly or wholly the cause of our problems.
In the case of government getting into church "business," I think
it is more because the church has been in a lot of "business" it
has no "business" being in. The solution: Let men handle "business"
and let the church worship God.